Child immigrant crisis reaches Prince William County

BRISTOW, Va. (WUSA9) -- The child immigration crisis at the nation's border is stirring concern in Prince William County, where some of the children are now staying.

County Chairman Corey Stewart thinks the children should be deported. "While it may seem cold-hearted, it is important that these children be sent back home since letting them stay simply entices even more children to attempt the long and dangerous journey to the United States," he said.

It's a tough issue: what to do with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children streaming across the nation's border. Some have been brought to Youth for Tomorrow in Bristow, Virginia, a non-profit private home for children in crisis that was founded and is chaired by former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

Stewart says Youth for Tomorrow told him that it had contracted with federal authorities to provide housing and services for some of the young immigrants being transferred from the southern borders. Stewart said he does not know how many children are at the facility and nobody from the campus-like center would answer questions.

Tuesday, Stewart held a closed-session meeting on the subject with the Board of Supervisors and afterward issued a directive. The Board directed the county attorney and county executive to work with the Prince William County congressional delegation to contact the Department of Health and Human Resources to try to get questions answered about the children.

Stewart says the board wants to know how many unaccompanied immigrant children are in Prince William County, how long they plan to stay and what services they may require from the county. He also said the board wants to know whether it has any authority over the issue.

Stewart said he and the board are very concerned about the unaccompanied illegal immigrant children being allowed into the United States and Prince William County. He said if these children are allowed to stay, it's "just the tip of the iceberg," and more will come, overwhelming our services and schools.

Bristow mom Jessica Hutchinson agrees. She understands the children fled a dangerous country, "but it's dangerous here," shouldn't we take care of our own children first, she asked.

But Tonya Reynolds, another mom from Bristow disagrees. Her parents immigrated from El Salvador and she thinks the children should be allowed to stay because they "deserve the right" for a safe place to live. She wondered how people could advocate for sending children back to a violent place from which they fled.

The Youth for Tomorrow website says it's been serving "the least, the lost and the lonely" children in our communities since 1986.

Youth for Tomorrow is the only location in the Washington, D.C. region that is known to be housing some of the unaccompanied immigrant children. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a Department of Defense spokesman confirmed to WUSA 9 that no federal facility in the region is being used to shelter or house the children.

The DoD is working with HHS to identify federal facilities for the unaccompanied minors, but no facilities in Northern Virginia are being considered, Crosson said.


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